Quirky Facts about the U.S. Presidents
Presidents are often remembered for their policies, speeches, and events that occurred while they were in office. But the presidents are as human as anyone. Many of them have amusing quirks or odd life experiences. Entire books have been written on this subject, but here’s a small sample.
-George Washington had numerous sets of dentures, including a pair made out of hippopotamus bone. He never had wooden teeth though, that is just a myth.
-Thomas Jefferson had a very populist, “common man” view of the presidency. He thought that his predecessors had acted too much like royalty and wanted to remove any pretentions from the office. He would horrify foreign dignitaries by greeting them in his pajamas.
-James Monroe was the last president who was part of the Revolutionary War era. He still liked to dress in late 18th century attire when he was president from 1817 to 1825. Many people found this bizarre. It would be like Barack Obama wearing a 1970’s afro.
-John Quincy Adams enjoyed skinny-dipping in the Potomac.
-John Tyler had 19 children by two different wives. After his first wife died, he married a 24 year old woman named Julia Tyler (nee Gardner) who was younger than his eldest daughter. Not surprisingly, relations between Tyler and his daughters were strained after that. Also, Tyler’s own son had previously dated Julia. Awkward.
-James K Polk hated shaking hands.
-James Buchanan was the only president who was a lifelong bachelor.
-Andrew Johnson was the first president to be impeached. He came within one vote of being removed from office.
-Ulysses S Grant was extremely squeamish about blood. That’s right – one of the most famous war generals in American history had a weak stomach.
-Rutherford Hayes and his wife Lucy hated alcohol so much that they banned all types of alcoholic beverages from the White House. They horrified visiting foreign dignitaries by serving them water. The first lady was named “Lemonade Lucy”.
-Chester An arthur loved to dress up in fancy clothes and throw parties. He was criticized for being lazy, but secretly had Bright’s Disease, which causes its sufferers to feel very lethargic.
-Benjamin Harrison was one of many presidents with a taste for younger women. His second wife was the niece of his first wife and twenty-five years younger than Harrison. His son and daughter were horrified and refused to attend the wedding. Harrison got revenge by cutting them out of his will.
-William McKinley’s wife had frequent seizures. She probably suffered from what we call epilepsy today. McKinley would sometimes hide her face with his handkerchief in an attempt to save her from embarrassment.
-William Howard Taft was so large that he became stuck in the White House bathtub.
-Warren G. Harding loved to drink whiskey, even though he was president during Prohibition. He hypocritically supported the 18th amendment banning the sale of alcohol.
-Calvin Coolidge was notoriously quiet. A woman once approached him and said that she had made a bet that she could get him to say more than two words. Coolidge replied, “You lose.”
-Herbert Hoover wanted the White House staff to be invisible. The cooks, servants, etc. were told to hide when Hoover was nearby. If he saw them, they could be fired.
-Harry Truman was notoriously hot-tempered. He once sent hate mail to a music critic who had bashed his daughter (a wannabe singer) in a column.
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